Increasing the lifespan of textiles is the key to living sustainably
Lindström states that circular economy is embedded into its business model. According to Harry Berg, this is evident in multiple ways in the Reusable Bag service.
From the natural perspective, the existing textiles are the most valuable textiles there are, and we should keep them in use for as long as possible. That’s something that Lindström has been doing with rental workwear for a good while now, and without boasting too much, we are pretty good at it. For instance, in 2019 alone, of our 10 million pieces of workwear garments in use, over 5 million pieces were repaired in some way; granting them a new lease on life. Because you wouldn’t ditch a pair of trousers just because the lining of the pocket has a small hole in it, would you?
The same applies also for shopping bags. In addition to making the most out of the textile itself and keeping them in circulation for as long as possible, the Returnable Bag is our solution for helping to decrease the usage of plastic bags and sold fabric bags. This allows us to have a permanent solution to a single-use product and to decrease carbon dioxide emissions at the same time.
We see the Returnable Bag also as a way to increase the lifespan of the textiles used already once in our operations. This is why we are working together with Reused Remade, a Swedish company that has developed its own innovation into upcycling used hotel linens into bags. Just think about it: our hygienic and efficient laundry process and seamstresses have kept the linens in use at the hotels for multiple years – some for as long as 8 years. Once the linens are put off from circulation, the wonderful folks at Reuse Remade transform them into stylish Reuse Remade Returnable Bags – and the cycle of use-wash-repair continues, keeping the bags in use for many more years to come. Increasing the use of the textile for over 10 years is quite long, and it could be prolonged still.
The only bag you’ll need – ever
The idea of the Reusable Bag is simple. Go to the store, buy whatever commodities and trinkets you need, and then opt for the Reusable Bag at the cashier’s counter. Carry your purchases home, pack the Reusable Bag to your bag to be used again. Repeat as needed. Once the bag gets dirty or needs repairing, return it to the shop with your next visit, and get a new one to use or your deposit back. This already is one view into circular economy and how to link your own actions into the bigger picture.
But how many people actually want to clean the used bag themselves, once the cough syrup has spilled all over it or when the last banana has been mushed into the fabric? This is the stage where we come in, making sure that the bags are cleaned in a hygienic way and then returned into use. We want to keep the bags in use for as long as possible, to make sure that the natural resources needed to create them haven’t gone to waste.
There’s still work to be done
But this is a topic requiring work still because the bags can do no good unless the consumers find them and start to use them. So, in addition to our own development work and making the Returnable Bags available in shops near you, we also need to educate people why the Returnable Bag is the bag-for-life. In the end, it is simple math: for instance, if you use a single Returnable Bag once a week for 4 years, you’ll save roughly 208 plastics bags. Think of the impact this can have on our nature?
Gradually people are starting to find it. In its first year, the Reusable Bag had roughly 20,000 users in Finland and in India. This year due to the Covid-19, the demand has increased significantly, and our aim is to have at least 400,000 users and decrease the usage of plastic bags by 25 million pieces. Big numbers for sure, but we see that it is worthwhile doing.
Increasing the lifespan of textiles is possible already now, and we’re tackling it, one bag at a time.